Five Tips for Managing German Cockroaches in Food Handling Appliances

An aerial view of two German cockroaches.

The German cockroach, Blattella germanica, poses challenges for food handling, processing, manufacturing, storage and service facilities around the globe. A known public health threat, the presence of this cockroach can significantly impact public perception of a facility or product.

Once introduced into a facility, German cockroaches can establish harborages anywhere in a structure where essential resources like food, water and shelter are available. German cockroaches can also infest machinery and food handling appliances (FHAs) where resources exist, further complicating pest management efforts. FHAs may provide suitable architecture that provides space and closed microenvironments based on construction, heat provided from operations, and food and water from operational buildup. Pest management professionals (PMPs) can be challenged by infested FHAs because of the sensitivity regarding food safety, the responsibility to protect the capital investment in the appliance, and the required availability of the FHA for operations results in a complex pest environment.

Often, infested FHAs are too large, are immobile or are operated on a demanding schedule. PMPs and their customers may not be able to remove the FHA for service. While the use of insecticides can provide effective control in/on FHAs, food safety and operational integrity must be considered before choosing an insecticide treatment. PMPs use a variety of insecticide formulations in food handling facilities where the product labels allow for such use. However, labeling almost always states that food preparation surfaces must not be treated (or treated food handling surfaces must be cleaned before food handling operations resume).

PMPs face many challenges in food handling facilities. Some insecticide formulations may potentially damage the FHA. Liquid and some aerosol formulations may damage FHA surfaces and electronic controls and components. Dust formulations may drift onto food handling surfaces and not be visible to stimulate cleaning. Some FHAs’ construction creates complex voids that cannot be reached with sprays and dusts. FHAs that operate at high temperatures can compromise insecticide residuals, making them ineffective and even a potential food contamination threat.

Five things to consider when using insecticide formulations

  1. Consider insecticide bait formulations for targeted control

    The development of insecticide bait formulations has proved to be very successful for PMPs. Specific to cockroach management, baits provide low-hazard, targeted control of many cockroach species and have been globally accepted and field-proven for over 30 years. Specific to FHFs and cockroach management, baits have allowed PMPs to deliver effective service coupled with a history of food safety when label directions are followed.

    Insecticide baits provide targeted applications in formulations that are stable and do not run, drift or move off of appropriate surfaces. Baits may be applied with confidence inside FHAs on non-food contact/preparation surfaces. Target pests living on or inside the appliance will be attracted to the baits and exposed to the active ingredient.

  2. Look at Maxforce® baits for your toughest pest management environments

    Envu has been a pioneer in the development of bait formulations for cockroaches, ants, flies, stored product pests and other insects with our Maxforce line of products. From the very beginning, Maxforce baits have been developed and registered globally to provide PMPs an effective pest management tool for many account types, including FHFs.

    Maxforce cockroach baits are available as ready-to-use gels, bait stations and granular baits. Our active ingredients provide the Maxforce Domino Effect™, where exposed cockroaches can cause mortality to other roaches in harborages that have never fed on or touched the bait. For more than 30 years, PMPs around the world have relied on Maxforce baits to deliver results in the toughest pest management environments.

  3. Remember that biological requirements may affect results

    Consider fundamental biological requirements to realize the best results from your efforts. Cockroaches, including German cockroaches, live in small spaces that are warm and moist, have very little air movement, and are close to food and water sources. When a suitable harborage is occupied, the resident population will grow. These congregations are commonly called “nests,” but this term is inaccurate since cockroaches are not social insects.

    German cockroaches spend over 90% of their time in harborages, typically only leaving to feed and mate. If sufficient resources (food, water, shelter) exist in or very close to the harborage, the population will remain in the harborage. Maxforce baits must compete with existing food and water sources. PMPs are trained to make placements directly into harborage sites or as close as possible to the harborage and between harborage and food sources. The goal is for cockroaches to “find” the bait before acquiring a meal from local resources.

  4. Pay attention to bait amount

    As effective and attractive as Maxforce baits are, they will not provide acceptable control if inadequate amounts of bait are applied. Each FHA may provide multiple harborage sites on, or inside, the unit. PMPs must apply a sufficient amount of bait (following label directions) to “feed” the population and make placements, wherever possible, into or as close as possible to all harborages that exist on and in the FHA. Careful inspection and monitoring of pest activity will reveal the level of infestation and the number of individual harborages an FHA may be carrying. In many cases, the PMP may require that the FHA be mechanically opened to provide access for bait placements.

  5. Choose the right bait formulation

    Choose your bait formulation based on environmental conditions, infestation pressure, competing food sources/types and difficulty in accessing harborages. Maxforce Cockroach Bait Stations are a good choice when access is difficult. The bait station is stable, is not volatile, and will provide control for one year or until the bait is completely consumed. For FHAs that may need to be opened for treatment, this formulation is a good choice to provide long-term protection. Bait stations are also a good choice in dusty, moist and greasy conditions as the station provides a physical barrier to protect the bait. Cockroach gel baits are easy to apply and provide a high-moisture food matrix that will be attractive even in sites where competing food debris is available.

For further assistance regarding Maxforce baits and/or German cockroach management, contact your local Envu Professional Pest Management representative.